Fred Kerley: Top things that you didn't know about the US sprint star 

The 26-year-old, who will be targeting the sprint double at the 2022 World Athletics championships in Oregon, is part of a sporting family and is fond of tattoos. Read below to find out more about the Olympic silver medallist.

By Evelyn Watta
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Olympic silver medallist Fred Kerley is a man on a mission.

The Texas-born sprinter started as a 200m runner during high school before making headlines on the track in 2017 when he won the NCAA indoor and outdoor 400m titles.

Since then, the American has continued to flash his versatility.

In 2021 he became the first man to win Diamond League events in the 100m, 200m and 400m.

Then at Tokyo 2020 he picked up a surprise silver medal in the 100m race behind Italy’s Marcell Jacobs and ahead of Canada’s Andre De Grasse, who took the bronze.

Kerley, who is aiming for a sprint double at the World championships in Oregon, has huge plans for himself including setting his sights on Usain Bolt’s 100m and 200m world records and Wayde van Niekerk’s 400m mark.

But before then, the 26-year-old will return to the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi, Kenya on 7 May, where he ran his fastest 200m last year.

Read below to find out more about the track star.

Kerley: Focussing on 100m and 200m for now…

Kerley started his track career in high school competing in the 200m and the 4x100m relay. He only began running the 400m in college after his amazing performances earned him the indoor and outdoor NCAA titles.

At the 2019 World championships in Doha, he won gold in the 400m relay and took bronze in the 400m, to add on to the silver he won in 2017 in London.

The eighth-fastest 400m runner of all time opened his 2022 season in March in Grenada clocking an impressive time of 44.47.

But he has decided to focus more on the 100m and 200m to boost his speed.

"The bigger plan is still the 400m in the coming years," he said in an interview with FloTrack.

"Right now I’m just focusing on getting my speed up so I can make history."

Eyeing three world records

Kerley is chasing history.

The American is already part of the sub10/20/44 club on the three main sprint distances along with South Africa’s Olympic champion van Niekerk and compatriot Michael Norman.

But he wants to be "a legend like eight-time Olympic gold medallist Bolt” and has set himself huge targets: to break the world records in the 100m, 200m and 400m, by running nine seconds, 18 seconds, and 42 seconds, respectively.

"It’s absolutely my desire to be the fastest man alive," the American sprinter, said in an interview with Tokyo 2020 after his Olympic silver.

"I want to be the fastest in the one [100m], the two [200m] and the four [400m]."

He ran his fastest 100m for second at the Tokyo Olympics in 9.84 and wants to shave nearly two seconds off his best of 19.76 from last year in the 200m and then better the 43.64 run in the 400m from 2019.

Sporting family

The American, who is not much of a talker, comes from a family with a rich sporting tradition.

He has talented siblings spread across the track and the American football pitch.

His younger brother Mylik is also a top 400m sprinter and ran with him in the relay at Texas A&M University.

His older brother Demarea also sprinted and competed in jumps at high school level, while his younger sister Virginia has been representing Texas Tech in the long and high jumps.

Fred's older cousin Jeremy Kerley played football as a wide receiver for the New York Jets.

The 6-foot-3 runner (1.90m) played multiple sports in school, including basketball, and also stood out on the football pitch. He played corner and safety for his American football team during high school.

Picture by 2017 Getty Images

He was raised by his aunt

The most important person in Kerley's life is his aunt Virginia.

In a write-up for the Spikes, the Texan shared how he moved in with his aunt - also known as 'Meme' - when he was a toddler after his dad was jailed and his mother ‘took wrong turns in life'.

Kerley grew up in the same house with 12 other cousins - his other uncle’s children who were also raised by aunt Virginia along with her own children.

"Aunt Virginia, the woman who raised me. The woman who made me who I am."

"She also brought up the two or three generations after me, and she’s still raising them now – 25 children in total.

"An amazing woman, with the best personality you could ever have. Kind and caring, tough but fair."

An avid tattoo fan

He has tattooed his aunt’s nickname on his arm “so she’d always be with me” he said. That 'Meme' tattoo is one of about ten on his chest, shoulder, and arms.

"Where I come from, everybody gets tattoos. I had my first when I was 12, which I didn’t tell my aunt about until much later. It was a scripture verse, Psalm 104, and I got it as a birthday gift. It was a street tattoo, which you could get for about $200 compared to $1000 at a tattoo shop," he explained as he talked about the inspiration behind his tattoos.

He has varied tattoos from the Virgin Mary, rosary beads, a bunch of roses, a sparrow on his chest, angel wings, praying hands, a cross and even got the tattoo of the word ‘Blessed’ on his arm.

"I know I’ve got all kinds of blessings coming my way from above."

Picture by 2019 Getty Images

Deeply religious

His choice of tattoos alludes to his strong Christian faith.

Growing up Kerley spent most of his days after training in church which further deepened his faith.

Picture by 2019 Getty Images

"We practically grew up in church. Every Wednesday, every Sunday, we were going to church no matter what. After football practice, after basketball practice, we were in the church the very next hour," he said.

"Even today, religion means so much to me. I don’t pray a specific prayer because there’s nothing in the world God hasn’t given to me already, but I just ask Him to give me strength every day, to keep on pushing."


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